November 22nd

9/11 Moment

JFK Library

JFK Library

Today marks 53 years since President John Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas.

The president had gone on a campaign trip there and was accompanied by vice-president Lyndon Johnson, a Texan who had political troubles in his home state.

Kennedy got caught up in a squabble between Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough and Johnson.  Yarborough refused to ride in Johnson’s limousine until Kennedy personally intervened.

Such is the stuff of presidential politics.

JFK was thrilled, but also surprised at the warm reception he and the first lady received when they arrived at Love Field.

Waving Texans lined the streets as the motorcade proceeded downtown into Dealey Plaza.

Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza

Kennedy was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old, who fits the terrorist/assassin profile to a fair thee well.

Oswald grew up in a broken home, experiencing a disturbed version of childhood before embarking on a bizarre series of chapters where he served in the Marines, fled to Russia and then returned to the U.S.

Oswald, as a result of his Marine training, was an expert marksman and he proved it that day.

If the first shot was a ranging one, the second found the mark as the president was hit roughly between the shoulder blades; the third struck him in the head killing him instantly.

The writer Robert Caro, a definitive biographer of Lyndon Johnson, muses that Kennedy, who suffered severe back problems and who was wearing a back brace that day which kept him upright for the final shot, would have sensed the irony of that fact.

Oswald was caught later that day after killing Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit and was himself killed on November 24, 1963, by Jack Ruby.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy made the decision to inter the slain president at Arlington National Cemetery rather than in his home state of Massachusetts, as he had indicated was his wish.

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It is said that she closely modeled JFK’s state funeral after that of Abraham Lincoln’s, ensuring a stately and elegiac ceremony which would be etched on the public’s consciousness.

She amply succeeded.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  • Brien McNamara says:

    The whole week is etched into the collective memory of people of my generation as one of those “I remember where I was when …” times.

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